2021 Toronto Blue Jays Midseason Top 30 Prospects Update
The Blue Jays entered the trade deadline with seven Top 100 prospects.
They still have five of the Top 100 prospects in baseball, with Austin Martin going to the Twins in the Berrios deal along with righthander Simeon Woods Richardson, a former Top 100 prospect himself, and Alek Manoah's recent graduation. Toronto's farm system still ranks among the best in baseball, with a strong set of Top 100 players to go with a wave of depth particularly from its international signings at the lower levels.
1. Gabriel Moreno, C
Age: 21. Team: Double-A New Hampshire
Moreno just keeps getting better. Signed out of Venezuela as an athletic catcher with good hand-eye coordination, Moreno made a lot of contact early in his career, but without much impact. He had a breakout season in 2019, then showed signs that the arrows were pointing up even more last year between the alternate training site and winter ball in Venezuela. In 2021, Moreno has developed into one of the game's premier prospects, behind only Baltimore's Adley Rutschman among the top catchers in the minors. A broken thumb sidelined Moreno at the end of June, but he has shown an exciting blend of hitting ability, power and athleticism behind the plate.
2. Nate Pearson, RHP
Age: 24. Team: Toronto
Pearson teases with his stuff and upside, but durability continues to be an issue. A first-round pick in 2017, Pearson threw 1.2 innings before a line drive broke his right forearm to end his season. The 101.2 innings he threw in 2019 with a carefully managed workload are his career high and probably will still be after the 2021 season, with an elbow injury last year and a sports hernia limiting him to just one big league game and six minor league appearances this year. Pearson still has the stuff to be a high-end pitcher when healthy, but his medical history is concerning.
3. Orelvis Martinez, SS/3B
Age: 19. Team: Low-A Dunedin
Martinez was one of the top international signings in the 2018 class and ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in his pro debut in 2019. The arrows have continued pointing up in 2021. Martinez hit for power before but he has started to tap into his plus raw juice even more this year. It has come at the expense of some extra strikeouts, but Martinez has shown advanced feel for hitting for his age, with a good chance he finds the right balance of contact and power as he matures. He's playing shortstop and third base now, projecting best at third.
4. Jordan Groshans, SS/3B
Age: 21. Team: Double-A New Hampshire
A first-round pick in 2018, Groshans hasn't played much since signing due to injuries and the pandemic. When he has been on the field, the results have been good. Despite playing just 23 games in Low-A in 2019, Groshans received an aggressive assignment by skipping High-A to become one of the top hitters in the Double-A Northeast. He has spent most of his time at shortstop, but he likely fits best long term at third base, where he has also gotten reps.
5. Alejandro Kirk, C
Age: 22. Team: Toronto
A left hip flexor strain sidelined Kirk for most of May and June, but when healthy he has continued to show the elite barrel skills that have been his trademark throughout his time in the minors. Kirk has good pitch recognition, strike-zone discipline and a short stroke that helps him square up both fastballs and breaking stuff with good plate coverage. While the emergence of Gabriel Moreno has given the Blue Jays a good problem to have regarding who is going to be their catcher of the future, Kirk has the skill set to be a regular behind the plate.
6. Gunnar Hoglund, RHP
Age: 21. Team: None
Hoglund looked on track to be a top 10 pick this year until he left his May 7 start for Mississippi and had Tommy John surgery. The Blue Jays snapped him up with the 19th overall pick. He won't pitch in games for them until next summer, but he has a promising three-pitch mix, throws strikes and has a good track record in the Southeastern Conference.
7. Otto Lopez, 2B/CF
Age: 22. Team: Double-A New Hampshire.
Lopez doesn't have big power or speed, but he's an instinctive baseball rat who continues to hit at a high level. He's an aggressive hitter who makes frequent contact with good bat control, winning a batting title in 2019 in the Low-A Midwest League and contending for another one in the Double-A Northeast this year.
8. Miguel Hiraldo, 2B/3B
Age: 19. Team: Low-A Dunedin.
Hiraldo has had a bat-driven profile since signing with the Blue Jays out of the Dominican Republic in 2017. He has good hand speed from a short, simple swing and uses his lower half well, though he hasn't shown a ton of power this year despite his bat speed and strength. Hiraldo split time between shortstop and second base last year, but he's now playing third and second base this year, with an offensive-minded profile at those spots.
9. Adam Kloffenstein, RHP
Age: 20. Team: High-A Vancouver.
Kloffenstein is one of Toronto's top pitching prospects, but he has had trouble syncing things up through the first few months of the season. Skipping a level to High-A Vancouver this year, the 6-foot-5 Kloffenstein has walked too many hitters, but he's still just 20 in High-A with an assortment of pitches that project to be 50-55 offerings on the 20-80 scale.
10. Manuel Beltre, SS
Age: 17. Team: Dominican Summer League
Beltre was the headline player from Toronto’s international class when the 2020-21 signing period opened this year on Jan. 15. Making his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League, Beltre is a polished hitter for his age with a short, simple swing and a good understanding of the strike zone, leading to a high contact rate and the potential to be a high on-base threat.
11. Estiven Machado, SS
12. Victor Mesia, C
13. Yhoangel Aponte, OF
14. Luis Garcia, SS
NEW The Blue Jays signed Garcia out of Venezuela in January. He had shown slick defensive skills as an amateur with plus speed and a strong arm from a frame that lacked strength, but his offensive game has been impressive early on as well.
15. Sem Robberse, RHP
16. Ricky Tiedemann, LHP
NEW Toronto's third-round pick this year out of Golden West (Calif.) JC, Tiedemann is a 6-foot-4 lefty who sits at 89-92 mph and touches 94 with a plus changeup that he uses to miss bats and get off-balance swings.
17. Irv Carter, RHP
NEW The Blue Jays' fifth-round pick, Carter signed for an above slot bonus of $847,500. He's a 6-foot-4 righthander who has some effort and stiffness in his mechanics with a low-90s fastball that reaches 95 mph and a hard slider that could develop into an out pitch.
18. Kevin Smith, SS/3B
NEW Smith has been an enigmatic prospect, following an outstanding 2018 at two Class A levels with a floundering 2019 that saw his strikeout rate skyrocket as his swing looked out of sync all year. Now in Triple-A, Smith is hitting well again, cutting down on his swing and miss while also hitting for power.
19. C.J. Van Eyk, RHP
20. Eric Pardinho, RHP
21. Thomas Hatch, RHP
22. Chad Dallas, RHP
NEW Toronto’s 2021 fourth-round pick, Dallas is a 5-foot-11, 206-pound righthander who filled the strike zone at Tennessee with a fastball that sits at 91-93 mph and touches 97. He has a hard, downer curveball along with a mid-80s slider that both can miss bats, with an occasional changeup that’s a distant fourth pitch for him.
23. Patrick Murphy, RHP
24. Samad Taylor, 2B/OF/3B
NEW Taylor struggled to hit much at either of his Class A stops, but he's a plus runner who has performed well this year at Double-A New Hampshire and shown occasional power as well, albeit with a high swing-and-miss rate he will need to cut down on as he faces better pitching.
25. Leonardo Jimenez, SS
26. Tanner Morris, SS
27. Rikelvin De Castro, SS
28. Josh Palacios, OF
29. Will Robertson, OF
30. Dasan Brown, OF
Young Catchers Gabriel Moreno, Francisco Alvarez Gain Helium In 2021
Both Moreno and Alvarez have surged up the Top 100 and have received much fanfare in prospect circles.
C Gabriel Moreno has gone from a player on the fringes of the Top 100 to becoming one of the game's elite prospects.
RHP Alek Manoah has emerged as a dominant starter, with a chance to be a front-end starter for years if he can remain healthy.
SS/3B Orelvis Martinez has established himself as one of the premier power threats in the lower minors, with the feel for hitting and driving the ball in the air to tap into that power in games.
OF Dasan Brown is an outstanding athlete, but he was raw when the Blue Jays drafted him and his crude hitting ability has continued to hold him back.
RHP Trent Palmer was the Blue Jays' third-round pick last year out of Jacksonville, but Palmer finished July with more walks than innings pitched.
3B Santiago Espinal has filled in capably this year, chipping in value with his strong contact skills (albeit with little power) and defensive ability.
LHP Anthony Kay still walks too many hitters to be more than a replacement-level pitcher right now, but he could develop into a useful reliever if he ever gets his command on track.
C Gabriel Moreno has been out since late June with a broken thumb.
RHP Nate Pearson has pitched in just one game in the majors this year, sidelined by a sports hernia.
RHP Gunnar Hoglund had Tommy John surgery this spring in college and won't be back until the middle of next season.
SS Estiven Machado is one of the organization's more exciting prospects at the lower levels, but he played in only one game in the Rookie-level Florida Complex League before a hamstring injury sidelined him.
RHP Eric Pardinho, who had Tommy John surgery in February 2020, returned to the mound for a couple of outings in the FCL at the beginning of July, but he felt soreness and has since been shut down.